Spinach is a very good, healthy vegetable and like most, it can be eaten raw or cooked. It is delicious in salads, soups, dips or with pasta.

It works very well in recipes with cheese like Blue/Parmesan, or with Avocado/Mango in Salads. Martine from the Costa Cálida Chronicle office has sent her recipe for Macaroni Cheese with Spinach. Thanks Martine, it looks great and I am going to try it this weekend. Vegetables are always very easy to make soups with and can be quick and easy for lunch. However, this time I have added my favourite Spinach Soup which is a Spanish recipe and not for the faint hearted.
Buen Apetito

Chickpea, Chorizo and Spinach Soup

4oz Spanish chorizo, cut into ¼” pieces
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large leeks, white and light green parts only/halved lengthwise/rinsed well/thinly sliced
4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes/tomato puree
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 x 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 tsp paprika (regular sweet)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Cup baby spinach
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Cook chorizo in a large pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionallyuntil most of the fat melts out, about 5 minutes. Set aside to drain on paper towels; discard fat. Add oil to the pot and place over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until just soft; 4 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes (or puree) and cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Add broth, chickpeas and sweet and smoked paprika; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, partially cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add spinach, pepper and the reserved chorizo; cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Macaroni Cheese With Spinach*

25gm macaroni pasta
2½ tsp reduced fat olive spread
2½ tsp plain flour
125 mls semi-skimmed milk
1 pinch Italian seasoning
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch black pepper
75gm spinach
31gm low fat cheese

Preheat your oven to 200oC (400oF) or gas mark 6.
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, omitting any added fat and salt. When it is cooked, drain the macaroni and return it to the saucepan.
If using frozen spinach, remove it from the freezer to defrost.
In another saucepan, melt the reduced fat olive spread and stir in the flour. Cook over a low heat for 3-4 mins, ensuring the mixture doesn’t brown. Add the milk and stir to ensure there are no lumps. Turn the heat up and bring the white sauce to the boil, stirring continuously. Once it has started to boil, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for a further 25 mins, stirring occasionally. When your sauce is ready, season with the herbs and pepper and stir in the spinach and the cheese. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and combine it well before adding it to a prepared baking dish. Bake your macaroni for 15 minutes or until the top is golden.

Blue Cheese and Spinach Salad

3 slices bacon, chopped
2 tbsp chopped shallot
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp honey mustard
Large tomato, cut in half, divided
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup fresh corn kernels (see Tips)
2 large hard-boiled eggs (see Tips), chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium heat until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon bits to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Add shallot to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and mustard. Stand a box grater up in the pan; shred one tomato half through the large holes; stir to combine the tomato juice with the dressing. (Discard tomato skin.) Chop the remaining tomato half and toss in a large bowl with spinach, corn, eggs and blue cheese. Drizzle the dressing from the skillet over the salad; toss to coat.

Sausage, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagne

8oz whole-wheat lasagna noodles
1 lb lean spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed, or vegetarian sausage-style soy product
4 cups sliced mushrooms, (10oz)
1/4 cup water
1 lb frozen spinach, thawed
1 x 28oz can crushed tomatoes, preferably chunky
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb part-skim ricotta cheese, (2 cups)
8oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13″ baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until not quite tender; about 2 minutes less than the package directions. Drain; return the noodles to the pot, cover with cool water and set aside. Coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until browned; about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and water; cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage more, until it is cooked through, the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender; 8 to 10 minutes. Squeeze spinach to remove excess water, then stir into the pan; remove from heat. Mix tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
To assemble lasagna
Spread 1/2 cup of the tomatoes in the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, trimming to fit if necessary. Evenly dollop half the ricotta over the noodles. Top with half the sausage mixture, one-third of the remaining tomatoes and one-third of the mozzarella. Continue with another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta, the remaining sausage, half the remaining tomatoes and half the remaining mozzarella. Top with a third layer of noodles and the remaining tomatoes. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and heated through; 1-1hr 10mins. Remove the foil; sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is just melted but not browned, 8-10mins. Let rest for 10mins before serving.
Vegetarian Variation: Use a sausage-style soy product, such as Gimme Lean, or simply omit the sausage altogether.

Spinach Dip

1 small shallot, peeled
1 x 5oz can water chestnuts, rinsed
1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese,
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6oz baby spinach
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives

Pulse shallot and water chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until just combined. Add spinach and chives and pulse until incorporated.